Tattoos in the Memory: Autobiography and Violence in Contemporary Peru
AbstractOver the past years, testimonial forms have become “icons of truth”, that is to say, a resource to reconstruct recent memory (Sarlo, 2007). Contemporary to the so called linguistic twist, a subjective twist towards the use of the first person as the dominant form is taking place. Nowadays literary critics, historians, and ethnographers interested in popular culture are focusing on daily life. In other words, they study “normal” people who are the protagonists of transgressions and interchanges. Thus, rather than structures, what really matters is the subject, his identity and his reaffirmation.
We propose to analyze the Lurgio Galván Sánchez’s Memories of an unknown soldier. Autobiography of violence (2012), which is the story of a Quechua speaking peasant who attended or participated in the country’s dominant institutions, such as, the guerrilla, the army, the church, and the university, during the outburst of violence occurred in Peru in the course of the ‘80s and ‘90s. We will examine, using discourse, how these institutions struggled to impose a hegemonic account on past events and also to identify the mechanisms these institutions devised in order to prolong the violence from the time of the colonial conquest. Since then, many subjectivities and stereotypes have been created, giving rise to exclusions and aggressions, which have been cyclically imprinting indelible tattoos on the national body right up to the present day.
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